There’s a perception among patent litigators that speedy patent trials, especially in the Eastern District of Texas, usually wind up favoring the party that is suing for infringement.
But it turns out, the length of a trial has no effect on the outcome, Stanford Law School Professor Mark Lemley reveals in his latest patent litigation study, “Rush to Judgment? Trial Length and Outcomes in Patent Cases,” which he presented Friday at the first annual Empirical Patent Law Conference at Cornell Law School.
It’s just one of several findings that Lemley made after collecting data on every U.S. patent trial between Jan. 1, 2000 and June 30, 2011.
Trials that ended in favor of patent owners took on average 7.76 days, while those ending in favor of defendants took 7.74 days.
“The biggest surprise was that trial length doesn't make any difference at all, even though patent lawyers all seem to think it does,” Lemley said.
The study, which has yet to be published, also found that juries are more favorable to patent owners than judges are.
It also uncovered some variations from district to district, such as that patent owners win more often before juries in the Eastern District of Texas and the District of Delaware than they do in the Northern District of California. But the differences weren’t enough to conclude that the district where a case is tried significantly affects the likelihood that the jury will find in favor of the plaintiff.
“If the length of a trial doesn’t skew outcomes, one might reasonably argue that long trials are a waste of party and judicial resources,” Lemley wrote. “Far from a rush to judgment, a quick patent trial may produce the same outcome more quickly and cheaply.”